If you are of a certain age you probably remember a TV show called “Wings”. It was a show that largely resembled the set up of “Cheers” except that it was based out of an FBO environment with close nit group of people who either ran or helped support the small charter business.
Here is a clip to refresh your memory: Credit Wolfe Hight
The setup of the show revolves around two competing charter companies, “AeroMass” and “Sandpiper Air” located in Nantucket at Tom Nevers Field. The aircraft that “Sandpiper Air” use is a Cessna 404/402 (pictured below)
It appears that Paramount used two real Cessna 404/402 aircraft during filming from which the tail numbers are N121PB and N121PP. Interestingly enough one of the aircraft is still in service today, and enjoys multiple charter flights in and around the same area that the TV show was based.
N121PB – Still In Service
According to the FAA Registry, N121PB belongs to Hyannis Air Leasing INC in Massachusetts. It is a Cessna 402 manufactured in 1981. (Source registry.faa.gov). There isn’t much information regarding the plane and its uses in the sitcom, nor its progression after the show ended. However it does appear that it was involved in an accident in 2010.
According to Aviation-safety.net and an FAA accident report, the Cessna 402 was coming in for a landing at Watertown Intl Airport (KART) when according to the report, the pilot discovered he had “little to no braking action” and the aircraft skidded off the runway. (Source Aviation-safety.net) (WWNY News Report)
At the time of this report in 2010 the aircraft was being operated as a charter plane for Cape Air. Presumably the aircraft still operates for this company, but I was unable to find further information at the time of this article.
One more interesting fact about the tail number 121PB is that it may have only been the tail number used in filming, and not the actual plane above. Some have noted that you see multiple tail numbers used during filming including (N121PB, N121PP, and N160PB). Some believe that N160PB was taped over to N121PB in order to show similarly between aircraft. (Source wings.kcsky.net) A picture of the aircraft can be found on set from a 96 97 NBC blooper real from the TV Show Wings.
N121PP – No longer in service
This aircraft has a little bit more information tying it to the paramount production. In the FAA registry the aircraft shows deregistered due to the aircraft being destroyed. However it does show a registered owner of “Paramount Pictures Corp” in Hollywood California. This aircraft is listed as a Cessna 411 but no manufacture date is listed. Interestingly enough the certificate issue date is 1989, and the cancel date is 1996. Since those dates coincide with the start and stop date of the series itself, it is most likely this aircraft was used during filming.
N160PB – Still in Service
FAA registry shows this aircraft is from the Hyannis area and is of the same type aircraft used during filming. It is a Cessna 402C manufactured in 1981, owned by Hyannis Air Service INC in Massachusetts. However other some mentions from various “Wings” fanatics, there isn’t much information showing that the aircraft is indeed used during production, or in any shots during that time period.
It is worth noting that it is registered in Massachusetts, and fits the timeframe of when the aircraft would/could have been used for filming. It also has the same connection of being operated by “Cape Air” which has been proven to have had some influence on filming with at least one of its aircraft.
Jerry Coyne authored a blog which shows a flight inside the cockpit of N160PB on its charter leg from St. Louis to Kirksville MO. If indeed this aircraft has some part in the filming, you are seeing with this video inside the cockpit. (Checkout the blog HERE)
Tom Nevers Field – Real Airport or Soccer Field?
During the opening credits you are shown an image that is supposed to be the setting of the TV show’s charter company for both Sandpiper Air, and Aeromass. However the actual images are from the local airport Nantucket Memorial.
Shown below from Google Maps, Tom Nevers Field is actually a sports complex from which no runway or airport operations were ever on site. I was unable to find any mention of why the name was used, but most likely it was due to the fact that it resembled more of home grown smaller operation, than say “Nantucket Memorial Airport”
Finally I leave you with the opening credits that rolled on the first episode in the first season. Today this is still one of the best sequences of general aviation videography out side of the documentary “One Six Right”